Monday, May 08, 2006

Brooklyn Retail: Brooklyn Industries

Brooklyn Industries drives me crazy. Sometimes I love it, but more often I hate it and a lot of that is just frustration at knowing how little it would take to transform its offerings from just mixed to above average.

For those who aren't familiar, Brooklyn Industies is a seven-store chain, which begain five years ago with a location in Williamsburg. A big part of me roots for Brooklyn Industries because it's an independent effort started by two artists, who pride themselves on their collaborations with other artists, and if you look at my profile, I have a soft spot for ventures like theirs. Yeah sure, they're probably hipsters, but I never got on the hipster hate train so I could care less. More importantly, they probably busted their butts to get where they are today and to have accomplished as much as they have is an impressive and praiseworthy feat.

And then besides their solid roots, the company also makes some compelling product. It has a pretty good handle on graphics and color combinations and the bags aren't bad at all. The prints are great and on more than one occassion I've come within inches of buying one.

^^Brooklyn Industries gets an A+ for its brightly colored canvass print bags

What gets on my nerves is a combination of the cuts on the tops, skirts and dresses, the fabrics and the prices. In general, I find the lines of a lot of its women's wear to be utterly blah and lacking any originality*. It's fine that it wants to stick to basics, but damn, could it at least dress them up with some interesting details? Worse yet, the fabrics Brooklyn Industries uses often feel heavy and cheap, which would be fine if they were priced a lot cheaper, but they aint. Brooklyn Industries is as well known for its graphics as its relatively high prices.

^^Exhibit A: Shapeless shift dress in a heavy fabric, which, as the image illustrates, causes it to hang awkardly

^^There's nothing wrong with focusing on basics, but if you're going to offer your customers a skirt whose cut is several seasons old at least jazz it up with some fresh details

Then too, for a Brooklyn-based company, its alarmingly behind on trends. Skinny jeans are just now arriving in its doors and I think it still doesn't carry any tunic-type tops. One could argue that its bucking trends and blazing its own path, but if that's the case, I have no idea what direction its headed in.

For what it's worth, I will continue to pop in there when I'm shopping on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn and I'll keep hoping that it gets more on top of its game. I'm guessing it's a money-making company, but my hunch is that with a few tweaks, it could be pulling a lot more customers.

^^*On creativity: see the graphic on the shirt in the upper left corner? The Brooklyn Cyclone? I'm going to do some research on this, but I could swear another street line had tee-shirts featuring a very similar graphic in its fall 2005 line. I want to find out how common that graphic is, but suffice to say, it it's not and Brooklyn Industries jacked it from another independent, that's not cool.


Kathleen Fasanella said...

Exhibit A: Shapeless shift dress in a heavy fabric, which, as the image illustrates, causes it to hang awkardly

I respectfully disagree that exhibit A is "shapeless". In fact, the pattern seems to be cut quite nicely with bust darting and a shaped empire (cupping the bust) waistline. I do agree the fabrication is a poor choice, rendering the style stiffly. Also, I'd quibble with your description of "hangs"; I don't think I'd flatter it to that extent :). "Stand" might be more appropriate; I bet it'd stand upright on its own were one to position it accordingly. Lousy fabric choice but a cute pattern (patterns are my thing).

Lois said...

Hey Kathleen, thanks for your comment. I defer to your pattern expertise though I do think bust darting is a minimum for any garment. Stil, you're right, the issue is more the fabric than the cut. Lol--I'll bet it can stand up too!!